- Ford unveiled its new F-150 pickup Thursday night with some surprising new features designed for worksites as well as tailgate parties.
- The vehicle is critical to the company's profits as well as financing an $11 billion turnaround plan.
- Unique and hidden features include an integrated generator, hands-free driving as well as some hidden design elements.
Here are five unique things you should know about the 2021 F-150:
Ford is offering the vehicle with an integrated power generator that it's calling "Pro Power Onboard."
The generator will come standard on a new hybrid model of the vehicle. It also will be offered on other gasoline-powered trucks.
The generator works by taking energy from an onboard lithium-ion battery. The vehicle's engine may need to be on to assist in charging the battery. It can also be used to recharge things such as tools while the vehicle is in motion.
The power output varies based on the generator, but here are some Ford-provided samples of what the different systems will be able to power:
The 2021 F-150 will be among the first vehicles along with the Mustang Mach-E crossover to offer Ford's new hands-free driving system for divided highway.
The "Active Drive Assist" system will be able to control a vehicle's speed, braking and steering through a system of cameras, radar and other sensors on 100,000 miles of pre-mapped divided highways in the U.S. and Canada.
Customers can purchase a pickup with the hardware for the system later this year, but they will have to wait until the third quarter of 2021 to use the technology.
Ford plans to release software at that time to enable the technology via a remote, or over-the-air, update. It can also be installed at a dealership.
Auto companies, particularly Fiat Chrysler's Jeep brand, are increasingly adding hidden design elements commonly known as "Easter eggs" to new vehicles.
The 2021 Ford F-150 has at least three. On all vehicles for U.S. customers, an American flag is etched into the interior of the instrument panels near the driver and passenger doors. It's a subtle jab at pickups from its crosstown rivals General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, both of which produce some of their pickups in Mexico; Ford does not.
"You will see it every time you open a door," Ehab Kaoud, Ford chief designer of North America trucks. "It is a reminder that every F-150 is assembled in the U.S. of A."
Other special design elements on individual models include F-150 King Ranch models include an etching of the first such model on the instrument panel. XLT Sport models include a map of Detroit on the door.
"It symbolizes a sense of pride of where this vehicle was designed," Kaoud said. "And the map also symbolizes an exploration of new places."
New tie-downs on the tailgate of the vehicle also double as bottle owners.
The 2021 F-150 features new interior and exterior designs, additional storage and six available engine options, including a 3.0-liter diesel and 3.5-liter "PowerBoost" hybrid V6 engine. All engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Ford said the new hybrid model is targeted to achieve roughly 700 miles on a single tank of gas and deliver at least 12,000 pounds of available maximum towing. That's in line with or better than current models with V6 engines.
Ford expects the hybrid model — its "most premium powertrain" — to account for about 10% of sales. That compares with its "EcoBoost" V6 engines, which currently account for about 60% of sales.
An all-electric F-150 is expected sometime in the next two years — in line with or slightly later than new electric pickups from GM, Tesla and start-up manufacturer Rivian.
Ford Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday promised the upcoming all-electric pickup "is a spectacular product."
On the interior of the 2021 Ford F-150, it's all about storage and optimizing space.
One of the most unique features is a stowable gear shifter that allows for a flat surface between the passenger and driver for laptops or other needs such as signing documents.
About a third of truck customers regularly use their laptops in their pickups, according to Ford.
Both front seats also can fold nearly 180 degrees to allow for more comfortable sleeping arrangements, Ford said.
"We know that our customers spend much of their days and sometimes their nights in the vehicle," said Craig Schmatz, chief engineer of the F-150. "We wanted to really increase the functionality for them to be more productive in the cab as well as more comfortable."